Judges and attorneys who work in the child welfare system are well aware that many of the children in the system have experienced trauma1; less well recognized is that the birth parents of these children often have their own histories of childhood and adult trauma. For example, research indicates that 30-60% of maltreated children have caretakers who have experienced domestic violence themselves.2 Past or present experiences of trauma can affect a parent’s confidence and ability to keep children safe, work effectively with child welfare staff, and respond to the requirements of the courts.
What are signs that trauma may be present? Posttraumatic reactions can result whenever children or adults are exposed to threatening events that overwhelm their ability to cope. Posttraumatic reactions may include the following: Avoidance (especially of things that remind the person of the traumatic event) Feeling emotionally numb or disengaged n Hyper arousal or emotional or behavioral agitation n Re-experiencing (e.g., nightmares, intrusive memories, responding to reminders) Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness Feelings of hyper-vigilance (e.g. watchfulness, alertness, edginess, sleeplessness) In this fact sheet, trauma refers to events outside the typical range of human experience—that is, events involving actual or threatened risk to the life or physical integrity of individuals or someone close to them.
Source: Mediation and Counseling Blog